highway 40

highway 40

Creeping along through high pressure is Franck Cammas, who’s spitting distance away from his first ever Route Du Rhum victory in 3 or 4 tries on a brilliant wire-to-wire sail from Europe to the Caribbean.  Thomas Coville’s Sodebo finally has some pressure from behind, with Joyon and IDEC coming in from the South with more pressure and a better angle.

Meanwhile the two leading 50-foot trimarans have broken – the long awaited battle between Crepes Whaou and Actual turning into a limpfest into port to keep their steeds from falling further apart, with the victory in the fast class up for grabs.  And Bilou continues to hold his few dozen mile lead on the IMOCA 60 fleet.

But the monster fleet is complicated, with breakages and seriously split routing making it anyone’s guess.  Class 40 owner and lover Rail Meat broke the fleet down the other day for you – it’s a couple of days out of date, but worth reading for anyone interested in this monstrously successful young class.  And don’t forget that Junior is holding a press conference next week about the Class 40 "Atlantic Cup" here on the East Coast in 2011…

From the thread:
Responding to the comments about the relative performance of different generations of Class 40’s, I threw together this analysis of the boats based on this morning’s rankings. I did not have a lot of time (work beckons) so I was not able to do it for the entire fleet but did manage to pull it together for the top 31 boats.

The assignment of a given design / build into a "generation" for the Class 40 is a bit arbitrary. The first boats launched back in 2005 were the Rolland designed Jumbo and the Finot designed Pogo and those early designs held sway through 2006 and probably reached its zenith with the Akilaria. The Akilaria and the Pogo represented the vast majority of the 2006 edition of the RdR which was won by a Pogo and then second place was a Akilaria. But… it also marked the start of the second generation of boats when Owen Clarke came out with their first boat, Bollands Mill.

This boat broke new ground by moving well over the racer corner of the racer/cruiser box rule and turned a lot of heads within the class. Every design that came out since then has followed that lead and arguably that second generation of design covered a wide range of boats that were launched between 2006 and then well into 2007, boats like the LNM, the JPK, the Orca and the Rogers designs. The Orca and the Rogers probably represent the most refined evolution of that second generation of boats, with the Rogers launched in time for the 2007 TJV and the Orca coming (if my memory serves correctly) in early 2008. This is where it gets a bit arbitrary since I am sure there are good arguments to be made that the Rogers and Orca designs are third generation, but since I am the guy typing this up I get to exercise editorial control. While I admire these two designs, I think they still represent second generation thinking. You also saw designers and builders tweaking first generation designs well into 2008 to update them to second generation standards, tweaks that involved the same hull forms as their first generation but updated decks and construction techniques to maximize performance. Boats that fall into this universe include the Akilaria Racing with an updated deck and the Pogo S which went from monolithic to cored construction and got an updated deck.

But the 2007 Transat Jacques Vabre also marked the introduction of the first ‘third generation’ boat, the Tyker 40 designed by Verdier. This third generation pioneer was marked by even more aggressive chines, articulating sprit, and adjustments to the sail plan to move masts farther back in the boat. It was light, although that was not a serious advantage since the second generation boats had pretty much already gotten to the minimum weights and maximum righting moments allowed by the rule. This third generation has embraced the new Pogo S2, the Akilaria RCII, the BM40 by Manuard, and then Owen Clarke’s new third generation with versions by Jaz and by FS.

So… what can we learn looking at the results so far?

  • Ruyant – Tyker40 by Verdier
  • Manuard – BM40 by Manuard
  • Stamm – Rogers Class40 by Rogers Yacht Design
  • Riechers – FS40 by Owen Clarke Design
  • Grimont – Pogo40 S² by Finot/Conq
  • Defert – Tyker40 by Verdier
  • Noblet – Tyker40 by Verdier
  • Troussel – Pogo40 S² by Finot/Conq
  • De Lamotte – Rogers Class40 by Rogers Yacht Design
  • Strauss – Akilaria by Lombard
  • Criquiche – Pogo40 S² by Finot/Conq
  • Beauvais – LNM 40 by O. Philippot
  • Amedeo – Akilaria Racing by Lombard
  • Lepesqueux – Jumbo by Rolland
  • Burton – Pogo40 by Finot/Conq
  • Augeix – Akilaria by Lombard
  • Bougard – JPK by J. Valer
  • Daval – Pogo40 by Finot/Conq
  • Bazin – Akilaria Racing by Lombard
  • Galmard – Akilaria by Lombard
  • Colman – Jaz40 MkII by Owen Clarke Design
  • Grassi – Akilaria by Lombard
  • Consorte – Pogo40 S by Finot/Conq
  • Tolkein – ORCA by T. Humphreys
  • Guillemot – Pogo40 S² by Finot/Conq
  • Nannini – Akilaria by Lombard
  • Coatnoan – JPK by J. Valer
  • Romppanen – Akilaria Racing by Lombard
  • Seguin – Rogers Class40 by Rogers Yacht Design
  • Guillonneau – Ker40 by J. Marin
  • Goss – Akilaria RC II by Lombard

Well, I take away the following observations:

  • 5 of the top ten are third generation and 5 of the top ten are second generation
  • Out of that top ten, five of those skippers are full time pros, and two others are pretty close. It probably should not be a surprise that the pros are going to have the latest generation boats since the pros have managed to secure the funding to let them be both full time and to buy the best boat available.
  • But… some one like Grimont is no different than the rest of us average joes but is up there with the top of the fleet.
  • The top 20 of the fleet, whether they be pro or corinthian, are all guys that I know for a fact have some serious time sailing in a Class 40 over the past year or two. It seems that once again there is no substitute for experience.
  • There is an interesting mix of designers in the top 10 or even top 20. You have 6 different designers in the top 10 boats. You have 9 different designers in the top 20. That tells me that there is no single mad genius that has got this box rule figured out.
  • The first generation boats still have some speed. There is an Akilaria at #10, a Jumbo (!!!) at #14 and a Pogo at #15. In a fleet this talented and this prepared, that tells you that the Class’s efforts to maintain the viability of older designs is paying dividends.
  • You have third generation boats at the front of the fleet, and you have them at the back of the fleet. You have first generation boats at the back of the fleet, but you also have them still fighting it out in the front of the fleet. Which tells me that as important as the design can be for the success of a boat, the ability and preparation of the skipper is just as important. A fast skipper is going to be fast even in a slow boat. A slow skipper is going to be slow even in a fast boat. And the fastest boat will still fall behind if something breaks.
  • Finally, in this fleet of boats with similar speed and top talent driving them, the racing is incredibly fierce. Any breakage, any mistake, any mis-timed nap, any badly executed sail change, any missed shift….it will cost you miles on your competitors and those miles will be very difficult to make up. Imagine having to make every puff count for 3,000 miles. It kind of puts the average Saturday afternoon of Winward / Leewards into perspective.

Ok – back to work. Hope this analysis was helpful.
-Rail Meat